Tributes to WWII Vets Mankey, Beitler

Beitler sit

Two World War II vets from my book have passed away recently.

WWII hat

Carl Mankey, one of the few World War II Marines I’ve interviewed and one of the 28 WWII vets whose stories are featured in my book, died on April 6, 2016. Here is a portion of his story:

In June 22, 1944, Marine Private First Class Carl Mankey led 20 men from his squadron up a mountain in Saipan in the Mariana Islands. Mankey’s goal was to destroy a Japanese machine gun nest that had fired for hours on Allied troops. Disregarding heavy fire from the enemy, Mankey moved into the open to shoot with his rifle and throw grenades, hoping to disrupt the firing. Failing to hit the target, Mankey refused to give up. Later, he returned to the machine gun nest, repeating his brave actions. This time he completely destroyed it.

**

Carl was one of the first World War II vets I ever interviewed about four years ago at his home.

He had a nice small house with an American flag waving in the front yard. Someone had suggested he had a good story and I was looking for something to fill another week of my column in the Ossian Sun Riser.

Little did I know how much that story would come to mean to me.

Carl told me his story, using a lot of words I had never heard of—Tinian, Tarawa. They were islands in the Pacific. He told me he was injured once, healed and sent back to fight. I thought once a soldier was injured, he went home. First lesson.

Then he showed me his two Purple Hearts and explained they had been awarded for his two injuries. Wow! He had been injured a second time and lived to tell about it!

Carl was a small quiet man so it was hard to imagine him taking out a sniper nest, but I absolutely believed he did it if he told me he did. I got the sense he would not brag on himself.

After hearing his story, I went home and thought, “Gosh it’s too bad more people won’t have the opportunity to hear his story. It’s so amazing!”

As I began to interview more and more World War II vets, it came to me to put a book together about their stories. Carl’s story is in my first volume, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

I visited him a few times after the book was released. His family was proud of him and turned out in numbers for our book launch. A family member took him on the Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana which he loved.

Carl died in his home. Thanks, Carl, for your support. I’ll miss you.

&&

Dick Beitler passed away on April 17, 2016. He was a godly man who was forced to fight in some extreme battles with the Army in the Pacific. Here is the introduction to his story in my book:

On Leyte Island in the Philippines American soldiers reconnoitered in the Bataan Mountains. It was January 1945 and American forces were trying to recapture the Bataan peninsula from the Japanese. All was quiet until the third night. When the enemy began firing, part of my company went to high ground to fight. I stayed in the valley with other soldiers, firing all night. Many Americans were killed in what would be later called the Battle of Zig Zag Pass.

**

Dick was one of the oldest vets I’ve ever interviewed. He graduated from Berne High School in 1935, years before the US was involved with the war. He worked at a furniture store before and after the war. He and his wife raised six children and he taught Sunday School for 70 years.

At my book launch Dick volunteered to pray for our group and I was nervous and glad to hand him the microphone. He might not have needed it as his voice boomed!

These were both great fellows and I’m privileged to have their stories in my book.

 

 

Jeannette & Bruce Kenline Serving God and Country

Digital StillCamera

Kenline (3).jpg

This story is the result of interviews with a couple I met while working at a retirement home. They were the first couple I had met who had both served in the military. I admire them both.  I didn’t have photos of them in uniform but the helmet is pretty awesome!

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Jeannette and Bruce Kenline spent their lives in service, first as American soldiers, then ministering in churches.

A native of South Bend, Jeannette was a student at Indiana University for two years, majoring in business, when she enlisted as a Navy WAVES in 1944. (WAVES stands for “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”)

According to the Naval Historical Center, 27,000 women were recruited as WAVES within the first year of the war. By the end of the war, 80,000 WAVES were serving the US.

“You had to be 20 years old to enlist as a WAVE,” said Jeannette. Why did she want to join the Navy? “I had flown in a friend’s plane a couple of times and thought it was great,” she said. At that time the Army Air Corps, later known as the Air Force, was still in its infancy.

Unfortunately, Jeannette’s dreams of going up in a Navy plane didn’t materialize. She was stationed first at a base in Norman, Oklahoma, then at a naval station in Jacksonville, Florida, where she was assigned the duties of an Aviation Machinist Mate. As soon as she could, Jeannette transferred to an office job. “I discovered I didn’t like taking apart carburetors,” she said.

Bruce graduated from East Rockcreek High School in Markle in 1939. Following graduation, he enrolled at Indiana University as a pre-med major. When he enlisted in the Navy in 1942, his pharmaceutical training from college qualified him to serve as a medic.

Bruce participated in fighting at some of the fiercest battles of the war, including the Omaha Beach invasion at Normandy.

Between June 1940 and May 1945, Normandy was part of the German occupied zone of France. During the War, the Allies coordinated a massive build-up of troops and supplies to support a large-scale invasion of Normandy. This included amphibious landings by troops on Landing Ship Tanks (LST). “The front end extended into the water, and then dropped open, allowing soldiers easy access to the beach,” said Bruce, who rode on an LST.

His job as a medic was to mend wounded soldiers. It was a gruesome task with Germans dug into fortified locations above the beaches and shooting steadily at the Allied forces. “Bruce saw a man running without legs as they portrayed in the movie Saving Private Ryan,” said Jeannette.

Bruce survived Normandy only to be shot by a sniper at a later assignment in Okinawa. As a result of his injury, Bruce was sent home. During one of his stops to the island of Guam, he and other wounded Allied soldiers heard about the US dropping of the atom bomb on Japan in August 1945.

It was a momentous occasion for the battle-weary soldiers. “We knew the US had been working on an atom bomb,” said Bruce. “We hoped the war would end soon.”

Back in the US and honorably discharged from military service, Bruce returned to Indiana University where he met Jeannette who had been discharged in 1946. They married in 1947.

After graduating from IU with a business degree, Jeannette obtained her teaching license from the University of St Francis in Ft Wayne, later earning a Masters degree in Education from the same institution. Jeannette taught business and social studies classes at Norwell High School.

Bruce didn’t finish his pre-med degree, but began working with his father in the Ft Wayne area in a home decorating business. Following a trip to Africa 1965 with Dr. LeRoy Kinzer of the Markle Medical Center and Reverend Ernie Shoemaker, Bruce changed his vocation to that of a minister. He enrolled as a student at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, and obtained his license to preach in 1970.

Bruce began preaching at the Tocsin United Methodist Church and later Greentown, IN.

Over the course of their lives the Kenlines traveled to China and Russia and raised three sons. In summing up her life in service to God and country Jeannette said, “It is full of amazing grace!”

Note: Jeannette and Bruce Kenline died in 2011 in May and November, respectively.

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Tribute: WWII Vets / 2015

I subscribe to an interesting blog called Pacific Paratrooper .

It is put together by a military lover called GP Cox. He has taught me many things about our military that served in the Pacific during various eras. I recommend signing up for it.

At the end of his posts Mr. Cox lists vets who have passed away since the last post. His are often from the US and other countries.

I decided to list the World War II vets that I’ve interviewed who passed away in 2015 with their photos in uniform if they are available. This is my way of honoring them and the effort they made early in their lives to serve our country.

 

WWII front bk cover

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

Looking back at this list makes me sad because I became attached to several—John Wearly lived in my mother’s retirement community and I’d see him on nearly every visit.

Still, the number of World War II vets from my list who remain is great which means lots of opportunities to visit with them and send birthday/Christmas cards. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue adding to the interviews and preserve more of our nation’s heritage. The number of interviews numbers at 115 at this point. Woo hoo!

Please find an American veteran today and tell him/her thank you!

If you’d like to learn more about what our veterans experienced in WWII, you’ll want to read my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans. Signed copies can be purchased for $20+$4.95 on this site’s main page.

This book would be a terrific gift for a veteran or history lover.

John Wearly and Max Shambaugh who are among the list below are two of the 28 veterans featured in my book.

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Block, Richard — Aurora, Indiana – Navy – 9/19/15

 

Block uni

Seaman Richard Block served at Okinawa.

Brickley, Robert – Craigville, Indiana – Army – 8/7/15

Brickley Robert (3)

Clarke, Beresford – Evansville, Indiana — Army – 10/23/15

Clarke Beresford (3)

Gates, Emery ‘Bud’– Presto, PA – Army—5/11/15

 

Bud Gates-- uni

Bud Gates– uni

George, Kermit — Hoytville OH – Army – 7/6/15

George Kermit head uni

Lipscomb, Mary ‘Polly’ Adelaide Woodhull — Ann Arbor, MI – Army nurse – 6/4/15

fLipscomb uni head

Lohmuller, Dr. Herbert W. – Philadelphia, PA – Army physician – 5/27/15

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Ringger, Sylvan — Adams Co – Army – 4/10/15

Sylvan E & Violet Ringger uni

Shambaugh, Max – Fort Wayne – Army Air Corps – 8/2/15

Shambaugh old

Wearly, John – Fort Wayne – Army – 6/8/15

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Zurcher, Paul – Adams Co — Army – 5/7/15

 

Zurcher uni Purp Heart

Paul Zurcher was awarded Purple Heart after being wounded in WWII.

The Soldier who was Asked Not to Serve

aaMyers John new

aaMyers John cap (1)

Today I’m honoring a World War II Army medic who was born 94 years ago this week. A friend recommended I talk with him a few years ago and am I glad to have done so! What a story! I wrote this for a military publication I write for. It is commitment to his country like this that makes American soldiers great!

**

During WWII, John Robert Myers of Berne, Indiana, was offered the unusual opportunity by the United States Army to not serve his country in battle.

“I had been the forward on our basketball team at Wilshire High School in Ohio,” he said. “While training as a nurse after basic training in Stanton, Virginia, Army hospital officials recognized my athletic skills and asked if I would play for the hospital’s basketball team. They said I would not have to go overseas.”

Myers refused the offer. “I knew I’d feel guilty later for not fighting,” he said. “I went into the war to do the best I could for my country.”

aaMyers John coat snow

Myers was born Dec 24, 1921, in Berne, Indiana. After graduating from high school in 1940, he worked on the family farm with his father.

Like so many young men, Myers’ routine was interrupted at the outbreak of war. Upon being drafted in 1941, Myers completed basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington, then was assigned more specialized training as a nurse.

He worked there until December 1944 when he was shipped to the Philippines. “Our ship was a former luxury liner with everything torn out and bunks added to accommodate soldiers,” he said.

In summer 1945 the emperor of Japan surrendered and the war was over. Most troops headed home but not Staff Sergeant John Myers. “I had not earned the required number of points to be discharged,” he said.

The required number of points was based, among other things, on time in service, battles fought, etc.

Myers remained in the South Pacific, serving six months in Manila on a hospital ship, the USS Yokohama. “We were set up to receive injured American soldiers and POWs,” he said.

aaMyers John St Luke fri

Myers also worked at St Luke’s International Medical Center in Tokyo. In addition to scrubbing floors and fixing windows, he volunteered to work on the sixth floor, an area other soldiers shied away from. “It was the contagious disease ward,” he said. “I chose to help there because I wanted to be where I was needed.” St. Luke’s hospital is still in existence today.

Soldiers on the sixth floor were afflicted with, among other things, hepatitis, cancer, meningitis, venereal diseases, and small pox. Unfortunately, working closely with patients caused Myers to contract hepatitis. “I hurt so much I wished someone would hit me over the head and knock me out,” he said. It took Myers a month to recover.

While overseas, Myers wrote letters to a female friend, Chloe, at home. She wrote back. John Myers was discharged and arrived back in Berne in May 1946. He and Chloe married four months later. They became parents to three daughters and later, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

aaMyers John new

John returned to farming and attended Bethel Brethren Church in Berne. His story of being a medic in World War II has been recorded by local students.

Of his time in the Army during WWII, Myers said, “Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge on our trip home brought tears to my eyes! To live in a place like America is such a privilege. I was glad to help my country when I could.”

Sadly, Robert “Bob” Myers, 92, Berne, passed away Monday, February 3, 2014. I’m glad to have met him and that he shared his story with me.

Several WWII vets and other vets are among us.  Find a vet and tell him/her thanks for the service they provided to our country!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral of a Soldier

Thx to all who served sign

Thx to all who served sign

Ever attend the funeral of someone you don’t know? Yesterday I did so and it affected me greatly.

I don’t mean it was a long-ago friend of my husband’s or one of my kids’ teachers. This person was not related to me or acquainted with anyone I know.

Why would I attend a funeral for someone so distant from me? Because he was a Vietnam-era veteran with no family.

James Beavers served 1963-1966– it was not in Vietnam but the specs of where he served are unknown. Here is the obit from D.O. McComb & Sons Lakeside Park Funeral Home:

James Beavers , 74, passed away Monday, November 23, 2015 in Fort Wayne. He was a US Army Vietnam-era War Veteran. He has no surviving family. Funeral Service is 2:00 pm, December 17, 2015 at – D.O. McComb & Sons Lakeside Park Funeral Home, 1140 Lake Avenue with calling from noon until service time. Burial in Riverview Cemetery, Churubusco, Indiana with military honors.

Reporters uncovered other tidbits of information about Mr. Beavers:

He was a disabled Vietnam War Veteran, who held the rank of Private. He was an orphan, originally from Marion, Ind. He was never married, and never had children. He was honorably discharged. Where he worked (if he worked) after the war is a mystery. As the Brits say, ‘He kept himself to himself.’

After 3 weeks of searching for family to claim Mr. Beavers’ body for burial, no one came forward.

The Allen County coroner finally gave up. Thankfully, a local funeral home offered to conduct a funeral for Mr. Beavers and invited the public to attend to show their respect for him and his service.

Estimates of possibly (I’d say probably) more than 1,000 people – many from out of state—were there.

People of all ages attended the funeral. A woman I would suspect was close to 90 years old sat in front of me. A family with a baby sat beside me. Lots of teens were there, which was refreshing, as well as dozens of law enforcement and military groups. It was crowded but everyone was patient and kind.

The funeral lasted about 45 minutes. People prayed and a woman sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’. There were even bagpipes.

The internment with military burial was in a town about 45 minutes away. From news reports apparently many people attended that as well.

Keep in mind it was the middle of a weekday a week before Christmas. Everyone there, including me, probably still has shopping to complete for next week.

Ouabache display night Iwo

Obviously, we all felt it was worth our time to show respect for this veteran that had no social connections. None of us had anything to gain by being there.

As part of a military family, it was a privilege to honor Mr. Beavers by attending his funeral. I don’t know how he would have felt about it, had he known thousands of complete strangers would walk past his casket, most stopping for a moment and many adding a salute.

Hopefully, he would have been okay with that.

Still, it bothers me to think we may still have vets forgotten and feeling they are unappreciated. It may have been the way Mr. Beavers wanted to live, though it could not have been healthy for him to be behind doors much of his later years of life.

Perhaps people did try to reach out and were rebuffed. Perhaps things happened to Mr. Beavers while in military service that disturbed him so much he could not deal with people after the war.

Having had the privilege of interviewing a few Vietnam vets, I’ll say that I wish that period of American history could be re-written.

I wish we would have treated our vets more respectfully. As one Vietnam veteran I stood next to in line for viewing told me, “When I got off the boat in San Francisco, I didn’t know Americans protested our part in the war. That changed as soon as a man spit on me.”

This veteran went on to say he made it easier for the spitter to spit in the future (draw your own conclusions).

But he added that he went to Vietnam because in this country people are allowed to protest.

That’s freedom.

Ouabache display night knee

It was not prudent or, in my opinion American, for the protester to spit on a soldier, but he was afforded the opportunity to stand on the street and publicly acknowledge something about our government he didn’t agree with because our government allows him to do so.

I repeat, that’s freedom. It’s not something every country offers in this world and I’m proud of our nation for still offering that freedom today 50 years later. I don’t take that for granted and hope you don’t either.

I just wish all of our vets could find peace with our responses to their service.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep repeating it. Thank a veteran. Better yet, go see him/her and make an effort to be their friend or at least someone who shows respect for their military service.

If any veteran reads this, please know the family of this writer appreciates what you have done for our country.

Thank you.

 

Interview with Navy vet; thanks to Civil Air Patrol

Conte 12-15

What have you done today to brighten someone’s day?

I’ve decided the month of December (for once) will be filled with activities designed to bless others. A full-time job in past years kept me from helping/ volunteering/ spending time with people who needed some cheer.

Through my World War II interviews, I’ve connected with many older people who for the most part are living quiet lives. We chat for a couple of hours and then I move on, hoping our time together was pleasant and that the friendship will continue for a long time.

**

How did you remember Pearl Harbor?

After much wrangling, I’ve convinced myself I cannot do everything—not enough energy, fuel for my vehicle, money or time. So while the Pearl Harbor event the city of Fort Wayne (IN) offered on December 7 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum sounded interesting, it will have to wait until next year.

 curator Buchanan

My day was filled with the interview of Sam, a black Navy veteran. He served on the USS Yorktown. It was an exciting story, especially since Melissa Buchanan, Curator of Collections at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Charleston, was present to conduct the interview. She is pictured on right in photo above.

Melissa had flown in from Charleston to get Sam’s interview. She is doing the same thing with other World War II seamen around the country who served on the Yorktown, which is at Charleston.

My story of Sam’s service in the Navy will appear in the News-Sentinel later this winter.  

 Belmont Lineberry K

I heard about Sam from a friend, Brian Lineberry who teaches social studies at Bellmont High School in Decatur, IN.

This semester he is teaching a course on World War II. It is an elective course which means every student in the class has chosen to attend and have an interest in World War II.

Bryan has connected me with several World War II vets whom he knows. Bryan also purchased a copy of my book and posted a 5-star review of it on Amazon.

WWII front bk cover

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

Here are some of his thoughts about the book: “As a social studies teacher, I find it fascinating that there were local people involved at all levels and theatres of the war that we study about in history. This book has helped to provide a local connection and stories to reference when teaching about the war. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories of all the men and women featured in your book. I could not put it down!

If you’d like to purchase my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans, for a Christmas gift, do so today! We send orders promptly so it should arrive before the holidays.

**

After the interview with Sam, my husband and I attended a local Air Force Association luncheon. We met several World War II vets I’ve interviewed and several people purchased my book.

Col. Sam Conte was also present. In the late 1990s he and a wonderful staff of volunteers conducted weekly year-round meetings of the cadet squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.

Our son Chris began attending CAP when he 13 years old. It really set him on a course for military service. Through CAP, he began dreaming about attending the US Air Force Academy. Quite a dream!

While my husband and I had little idea of what to do to help our son learn how to prepare to apply to the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), the members of CAP did know what he should do.

Chris was accepted to the 2007 class of USAFA and we credit Sam and others for his success Air Force career.

It was a delight to see Sam again after several years and tell him how Chris’ Air Force career as a Captain with an MBA degree was progressing. That is a photo of us at the top of this post.

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The last item to mention is something Natalie Ross showed me at the Air Force Assn meeting. She had a New Testament that had belonged to her uncle, Sergeant Carl Herron Ross of Avilla IN. It was equipped with a gold-plated steel front cover. Sergeant Ross carried it over his heart. He also carried a watch that belonged to his mother. She gave it to him to carry during the war and it was later given to Natalie.

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Today I’m off to interview a guy who was on the USS State Louis stationed at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Should be interesting!

Thank a veteran!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veteran’s Day-Opp to Honor Our Heroes

241 Remember sign

241 Remember sign

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us and many other military families around the nation. Veteran’s Day is perhaps the biggest day of the year for all vets. It gives the public the opportunity to honor them in so many ways.

Vet Day bus

John & I participated in Fort Wayne’s Veteran’s Day Parade. He rode the Air National Guard bus while I walked with the Blue Star Mothers. I had more fun handing out candy to children along the mile-long route, but guess who was more tired at the end of the parade?

Thanks to everyone in the Fort Wayne area – Boy Scouts, school bands, military groups and supporters – for going to the effort of showing our vets how much we appreciate them!

Lineberry class

Speaking opportunities for me to tell people about my World War II book of veteran stories abounded. These are pictures of some places I’ve been.

Belmont Lineberry K

Brian Lineberry allowed me to speak to his class at Bellmont High School in Decatur. The class is studying World War II and preparing to write profiles of fallen World War II soldiers from the area. Cool! I gave them tips on research and what they might discover.

Lani 2015

Lani Mahnensmith asked me to speak to a grief support group that meets at Kingston Retirement Center in Fort Wayne. Met some vets there I’ve interviewed and ate lunch with them. Double cool!

K display

The Allen County Public Library Author Fair was well attended. Several people stopped by to ask about the book and we chatted about World War II vets in the area.

Laurie Gray auth fair

It was fun seeing author friends Laurie Gray (above) and Doris Rapp (below).

Doris Rapp

We all were asked to speak on panels about writing.

Amn 241 fallen heroes display

one last thing to mention—the American Legion 241 Post in Fort Wayne hosted an exhibit that I’m sure moved everyone who viewed it.

It displays names, photos and mementos from family / friends of fallen soldiers from Indiana. The display was organized by a father who feared the public would forget his soldier son after his death. It is respectful and maddening to think of our loss because of their sacrifices on our nation’s behalf.

Hiester

The display is especially meaningful for me as there is a photo of a man who grew up in my church. See lower left.

Master Sergeant Michael Hiester, 33, was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 by a mine explosion. He left behind a wife, son, daughter, parents and two sisters, a church who loved him and many, many friends. I love them and respect them so much for carrying on. I don’t know how family get through those painful experiences. The least we can do for our fallen heroes is to show respect for every veteran we meet.

Learn more about this unique exhibit here.

If you have a chance today, thank a veteran for his/her service!